Area of investment and support

Area of investment and support: Transforming foundation industries

The foundation industries are vital to the UK manufacturing and construction sectors.
This challenge aims to transform the UK’s foundation industries by:

  • making them internationally competitive
  • securing more jobs throughout the UK
  • growing the sector by 2024 in an environmentally sustainable way
£66 million
2020 to 2024
Partners involved:
Innovate UK (lead), Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), Innovate UK Knowledge Transfer Network (KTN), TFI Network+, TransFIRe

The scope and what we're doing

The UK’s foundation industries are vital for its manufacturing and construction sectors. The foundation industries are:

  • cement
  • metals
  • glass
  • paper
  • ceramics
  • chemicals

The challenge aims to transform the UK’s foundation industries by:

  • making them internationally competitive
  • securing more jobs throughout the UK
  • growing the sector by 2024 in an environmentally sustainable way

The ‘Transforming foundation industries’ (TFI) challenge is part of the ‘clean growth’ theme of the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund.

Our work

The challenge’s programme is addressing barriers affecting the sector in a number of ways. The following are examples of current projects.

Scaling innovation

In partnership with St Helens Council, Liverpool City Region and the not-for-profit company Glass Futures, we are establishing a £57 million open access facility. This will scale up and commercialise sustainable glass manufacture.

Industry-led innovation

We are launching a series of industry-led collaborative research and development competitions. These are focused on cross-sector working, skills, knowledge transfer and adoption, with the aim of transforming the sector’s thinking.

Projects funded to date can be found in our portfolio, Shaping the future for the foundation industries in the UK.

University technology transfer

We are establishing an EPSRC research and innovation hub, which will connect high-quality innovators from universities with companies that can use their technology in industrial settings.

Transforming Foundation Industries Research and Innovation Hub (TransFIRe)

Supporting innovation

Through TFI Network+  and Foundation Industries KTN, we are helping to coordinate and develop a network across the foundation industries that will remove common barriers to innovation and adoption.

Providing late-stage finance

Through partnerships with private equity institutions, we are leveraging our funding to provide capital for fast-growing small and medium-sized enterprises.


Our partners include:

All our partners are supporting the development of a vibrant foundation industries community. This includes organising many virtual and face to face workshops and presentations, as well as networking events.

Foundation Industries Future Leaders Group

We have set up a future leaders group for this challenge to help the UKRI challenge team engage deeper into the foundation industry sectors and provide active feedback around initiatives and support programmes.

About the Foundation Industries Future Leaders Group.

Why we're doing it

The foundation industries exist as we know them today thanks to a series of crucial innovations. These allowed them to manufacture materials at a scale and price that economies across the globe could afford.

The foundation industries have continually evolved over the decades to meet our widening needs. Today, around 75% of the materials we see around us have been made by one of these six key industries.

As we move further into the 21st century, we need to rapidly address the challenges brought about by climate change, and the need for long-term sustainability in all that we do.

Innovation is key to achieving this aim and is the reason we have established the transforming foundation industries challenge.

For more information see:

Opportunities, support and resources available

Enablers of Transformation TFI Network+ Funding Call

Opening date
3 October 2022
Closing date
16:00 2 December 2022
Funding decision
20 January 2023
Project start date
3 April 2023 or earlier if possible
Project end date
6 months from start date

The TFI Network+ is looking to fund multi-disciplinary projects that investigate challenges which may hinder transformation within the foundation industries on their path towards a more sustainable future.

Past projects, outcomes and impact

Case studies

Learn more about the projects the challenge has funded to support the foundation industries.

Lucideon Ltd

Funded by UKRI, the company Lucideon is developing a new way to densify ceramic and glass powder. This reduces energy demand by more than 50% and could make UK companies more competitive.

Case study on Lucideon’s work.

Last updated: 29 November 2022

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